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Hello and welcome to the movie blog of author John DeFrank - FilmZ and Guy Sobriquet Malone - Researcher

Brief Reviews: Ingrid Goes West and Good Time


Ingrid Goes West

Disclaimer: Aubrey Plaza would have to fling feces at my colleague, Guy S. Malone, Researcher, for us to turn on her, and even then, I would probably laugh.  Plaza is both producer and star of Ingrid Goes West, roles she adopted on her recent gem, The Little Hours.  As such, she has creative control and thus carte blanche to allow her talent to flow unchained.  Hours was a hilarious, over-the-top satire; Ingrid is satire, too, but it is also a cautionary tale about social media with a message that darkens the comedy, and it is only her comic persona that prevents it from becoming pitch black.

Ingrid Thorburn is a mess.  Her mother has died, but in her life, that is merely a sad-face emoji.  Upset because she wasn't invited to a wedding of a young woman she was following on social media, Ingrid crashes the reception and Maces the bride, an act that lands her in a mental institution.  The doctors treat her depression, but they can't reach delusions that are locked inside her smart phone.  She can, however, seem well and happy when her fixations latch onto another queen of the ether: This time it is Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), the brightest star in the Instagram galaxy, who is a #blessed "influencer"--she has so many followers that companies pay her to drop the names of their products.  Properly smitten with a girl crush, Ingrid takes the $60,000 she has inherited from her mother and hatches a harebrained plan--she decides to move to California and insinuate herself into Taylor's life.  In Venice Beach, she rents a flat from Dan Pinto (O'Shea Jackson, Jr) a Batman freak and aspiring screenwriter who either has a crush on her or feels sorry for her or both.  Her focus elsewhere, Ingrid dognaps her way into Taylor's home that she shares with her man-bunned, no-talent artist husband, Ezra (Wyatt Russell).  Aside from serial wince-inducing, comic gaffes, Ingrid cons everyone but Taylor's handsome but horrid brother, Nicky (Billy Magnussen), a catalyst for third act tragi-comic comeuppances leading to the only possible finale appropriate for an Aubrey Plaza film.

Ingrid Goes West isn't for everyone.  Some older filmgoers or those not steeped in that lifestyle may not truly appreciate the efforts of Matt Spicer, who directed and co-wrote (with David Branson Smith), but it's definitely for the under-30 crowd that can relate to the vapid, all-consuming world of social media.  We are only now learning the psychological effects of the morphine drip addiction smartphones provide that keep some of us constantly wired.  For Ingrid, the addiction has swallowed her identity.  The cast is uniformly excellent, and it's unfair to all to single any out.  We'll do it anyway.  Jackson, the son of rapper Ice Cube, is a natural, ranging between enthusiastic Batman fanboy to tender but frustrated romantic foil of Ingrid.  Magnussen brings charming despicability to the level of fine art.  The film, though, is Plaza's.  Her Ingrid elicits sympathy, disdain, and laughs, sometimes all at once.  In the future, when she is receiving her first Oscar, we will look at this role as seminal in that evolution.
7.5 out of 10 on the Entertainment Scale
5.0 out of 10 on an Awards Scale (In a weaker year for Actress, Plaza might merit consideration)


Good Time

As he requested his ticket, my friend Dude said "One for 'Fake Good Time.' "  His words would have enraged our compadre, Guy S. Malone, Researcher, whose job it is to make sure we attend no clunkers.  Luckily, GSM,R was at the concession stand, but Dude's pre-emptive strike was eerily prophetic.  Good Time was a Cannes nominee for Palme d'Or (Best Picture) and winner of Sound Track.  It also brought raves but no nomination for star Robert Pattinson.  We agree on Pattinson, but this gritty crime-action film by Josh and Benny Safdie served to underline the variance we have with the taste of the Cannes Film Festival folks.

Connie Nikas (Pattinson) hates his grandmother's guardianship treatment of his mentally challenged brother, Nick (a convincing Benny Safdie).  A loser who is not particularly bright himself, Connie is nonetheless a loyal brother.  With the promise of a peaceful, safe life on a farm, Connie plans a bank robbery with Nick as an accomplice.  What could possibly go wrong?  Everything, it turns out: a dye-bomb renders the money worthless, but worse, Nick is taken into custody, and Connie realizes he has just placed his brother's safety, perhaps his life, in jeopardy.  This sends him on a 24-hour odyssey, first, trying to raise bail, later, trying to spring Nick.  As day progresses into night, each successive move Connie makes becomes more desperate, and he becomes more frantic.  And, as the new day dawns, so does Connie's short, strange trip.

In Good Time, Robert Pattinson carries the film.  He is in nearly every scene, and the British actor is convincing as a two-bit outer-borough punk.  This continues a good year for him, following a diametrically opposed role as a philosophical and honorable adventurer in The Lost City of Z.   Some cast members have thus far gone unmentioned because, as good as they are, they seem merely plot contrivances to sell Connie's character flaws and increasing desperation.  Two Oscar nominees appear briefly: Jennifer Jason Leigh is Corey, Connie's whiny, gullible girlfriend who has topped out Mom's credit card; and Barkhad Abdi is Dash, an amusement park security guard (don't ask).  We believe the Cannes Sound Track award was an ironic choice.  The tinny cacophony was evidently meant to make the movie seem fast-paced, but it was distracting and nerve-jangling.  The relatively economical 101-minute runtime seemed too long by a half-hour.  One couple walked out and Dude wanted to, but he only stuck around so as to spare the feeling's of Guy S. Malone, Researcher.
6.0 out of 10 on the Entertainment Scale
5.0 out of 10 on an Awards Scale (Robert Pattinson a long shot possibility)


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